Sunday, November 8, 2009

City of Bones

Biblio Bits City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Margaret K. McElderberry Books, 2007 (ISBN 9781416914280)

Reading Level/Interest Age 740 lexile/age 14+

Genre Urban fantasy

Plot Summary
When Clary Fray starts seeing things that her friend Simon can't, that's the first tip-off that Clary's understanding of reality is about to expand in a major way. She's still trying to understand the murder she witnessed (that appeared to involve some fantastic beings), when Clary's mom, Jocelyn, leaves her a garbled message and disappears. Clary has never known her dad, who died in a fatal car accident when she was too little to remember him, so suddenly Clary is on her own. When one of the murderers shows up and offers to help Clary, she is as confused as ever, and pretty soon is on a race against time to solve the mystery that will save her mom, with the help of a few Shadowhunters and some Werewolves. Clary discovers that her own history is not what she thinks it is and that her mother kept some important secrets from her.

Critical Evaluation
This fast-paced urban adventure story is compelling. It appears on several lists that liken it to Twilight ( Meyer), and though it deals with supernatural beings and has a girl protagonist, it has many differences that readers who are expecting a Twilight-like read might be disappointed in. First, the pacing is brisk: this book is action-driven, not character-driven. In this way, I would liked it more to the Percy Jackson or Maximum Ride series, where practically every chapter has an element of surprise/danger. There are more relationships in this book to sort out and many more plot twists. Because of the larger cast of characters, some characters seem a bit one-dimensional and predictable. Again, with the pace at which the plot moved, there really wasn't time to get too deep with any one character except for the most central ones. Romance? Well, sort of. Definitely some romantic tension, but this gets complicated as the story unfolds. The fun part is the details like the vampire motorcycles that run on demon energies or the eccentric character of Magnus Bane, the warlock of Brooklyn. But there are a lot of holes in this fantasy world which makes it difficult to enter into the story fully, if you are a picky reader.

Reader's Annotation
A great romp through New York City's underworld of the supernatural, normally invisible to us "mundies" (short for mundanes), on a fast-paced adventure to keep the balance of good and evil in order, with many plot twists to keep you guessing!

Author Information
Cassandra Clare (pseudonym) was born in Tehran, Iran, and spent her childhood traveling with her parents to various places around the world. She spent her high school years in Los Angeles, where she also lived after college and worked as a writer for entertainment magazines and tabloids. Clare began writing this first installment of the Mortal Instruments series in 2004, and took inspiration from the city of New York for the setting. Clare has also written Harry Potter fan fiction, and gained attention for her extensive works in this genre. (Information for this author bio is from here and here.)

Challenge issues
Yes there are! The supernatural beings might be enough to give some readers pause, but there is definitely some language and swearing in this book that may be inappropriate for younger readers.

Booktalking Ideas
Supernatural beings...the unexplained...searching for your identity...urban fantasy...myths. These are all potential booktalking buddies for City of Bones. Maximum Ride (Patterson) would be a good companion here, particularly because of the female protagonist and the angelic themes. This book also has plenty of suspense and "creepy" so it could be a good one to promote around Halloween.

Curriculum Ties
Students could be asked to take one of the Downworld groups, (like vampires, werewolves, faeries, etc.), and flesh-out their cultures a bit more. Students could research cultural explanations of the supernatural group they choose and begin to build a world in present day New York for them. How would their history with Shadowhunters influence their alliances, survival, and leadership? Where would they hang out? What would their headquarters look like?

Why this book?
The Mortal Instruments series has appeared a few times on lists of "If you liked Twilight, you'll also like..." so I decided to try it and see what I thought.

Yes, this one is followed by City of Ashes and then City of Glass.


Rockport Public Library owns?

No comments: